By: Ismaila Yahaya Kana
These past few weeks, I have regaled us with insights into Jeff Uzor’s Imo State of the future should he be elected governor come 2019. We have so far covered over six key areas of governance and counting, and we appreciate all the feedback and criticisms you have been kind to send our way. In case you missed some or all the previous musings in this series, not to worry, you can catch up with them by simply visiting www.adamazicom or www.opinion9ja.com where we hope you will also leave us your comment because we value your feedback.
This week, our focus pans stately on youth development. I don’t need to over flog the fact that a country whose youth are dormant, mildly or completely uneducated, devoid of mentoring and political, business or career guidance is without doubt setup to fail. Most countries of the world that have succeeded where Nigeria is failing are those who created very reliable youth succession plans which offers to deliberately guide and guard the youth aright so that the future growth and development of their countries can be assured and sustained.
Needless to say, Nigeria is failing because engagement with the youth about their future which doubles as the future of the nation stopped long before the civil war. Everything that tends to favour the youth and make them useful to themselves and the country has been completely relegated to the back burner by a selfish cabal who were themselves prepared for leadership using state resources and selfless mentors only for them to pull up the ladder in a desperate and selfish move to truncate the line of succession.
Ever wondered why people whose education was paid for by the state, will turn out to be the same people who will ensure that no education reach the youth coming behind them? Fear of the unknown and a good old, putrid greed that has turned into a paranoia of some sort.
Well, I present you the youthful Jeff Uzor. Who better than this gentleman who has lived the ills and the disdain with which youths are treated in this country; and, the sharp contrast that he has been accosted with in all the serious nations of the world that he has travelled and worked in, to lead the change that will reposition the youth in Imo state and I dare say Nigeria for excellence? I know, some may cringe their noses after reading this statement and who will blame them when so called youths like the present Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello have proven to be anything but better than the old order. The difference here however is that, while Jeff has had the benefit of robust foreign exposure and engagement, and has witnessed and lived the deliberate plans put in place to prepare the youth for the future in serious climes, the GYBs have probably been mentored by sanguine and internecine old men who only think about themselves. Trust me, you can’t give what you don’t have!
Youths are the foundation of the future. This fact can never be overemphasized. Their positive development is tantamount to our economic advancement. To say that our youths lag behind is an understatement. The inability of our leaders to make available to them resources and structures for growth is gradually extinguishing flames of greatness in them and rekindling sycophancy as we see playing out all over social media. An average youth in China, India or so many other nations is either an entrepreneur or an aspiring entrepreneur whereas, an average youth in Imo is an established sycophant. This is a crisis in so many levels.
The period between childhood and adulthood is the most critical in the human development. It is the period when most important life decisions are made. Our current leaders only understand this when their kids are involved. They send them to good schools overseas making sure they have all necessary tools needed for success albeit abandoning the rest of us to fate. This is no longer acceptable.
This is where Jeff comes in. He will set up programmes and procedures that will help our youths take on the future in an array of disciplines, leadership, services: engineering, management, sports, science and technology etc. The system Jeff proposes will help Imo youths navigate options, identify interests, harness and develop talents and help them make sound life decisions.
To start with, Jeff’s administration which I contend has the best plan for the youth, plans to create a database of all Imo youths at home and in the diaspora. For those in the diaspora, he intends to set up a hotline they can call when they are facing any form of difficulty and the appropriate agency of government will be on hand to give them counseling, assist them in emergencies and provide them legal aid. Those at home, he hopes to partner with in various levels.
LEVEL ONE: ARTISANS
Though there are several factors that affect cost of production, all of us can agree that automation/mechanization reduces cost. As part of Jeff’s plan to grow revenue in Imo and sustain development, Imo youths who are currently in the crafts or trades as auto repair, sewing, carpentry/cabinetry, farming etc. will be fully trained in the use of automated methods and upon completion, will partner with government who will make available modern, fully mechanised shops that will not only enhance user experience, but will be faster, drive cost down and increase patronage and of course, revenue.
LEVEL TWO: TRADERS
Igbo traders, most of them youths face a lot of difficulty in their day to day client customer interface. For instance, a butcher in other climes sells meat by the scale and has access to better storage facilities. This is nonexistent in Imo. Jeff believes he has the wherewithal to change all that and help them become better entrepreneurs by providing them with tools for accurate measurement, storage and distribution of goods etc. Under Jeff, there will be regulations to ensure that both customers and traders are protected. Traders will have government issued scales for their use in selling grain, poultry, beef, fish and fresh produce etc.
LEVEL THREE: FARMERS
Notwithstanding the fact that Imo State has its fair share of arable lands, her youths don’t take on farming because the output is not worth the effort. The result is an overdependence on northern or imported food. This is a dangerous trend which if left to continue may spell doom for Ndi Imo. This is why Jeff intends to nip it in the bud by partnership with youths who intend to take-up farming by providing them with high yield products and high output machines. This will include helping them to secure farming loans, subsidized seedlings and machines, export deals and by so doing, raise the revenue accruable to Imo state.
LEVEL FOUR: Information Technology IT
Imo youths have been shut out of the tech bubble by other administration. This is not surprising considering Imo has been mostly governed by analog leaders and cannot be expected to fully appreciate what technology can add to the dwindling economy. As a result, opportunities in software development, app management, multimedia marketing etc. have generally eludedImo youths. The implication is that, a lot of them that are proficient in various operating systems are not tapping into the global market robbing them and Imo state humongous sums that would have been accrued as revenue. This must change and the only person with the capacity to do so among the current crop of aspiring Imo leaders is JEFF UZOR!
LEVEL FIVE: SPORTS
Virtually every Nigerian child is born with the natural ability to excel in soccer. One would have thought our leaders will make use of this knowledge to turn Nigeria into a serious sporting nation. This can easily be propagated through schools as it was done in the past, be made a part of the curriculum. But no, Imo people and their Igbo kin get it as a December special or during political campaigns. This Jeff will change. He will end the days of accidental successes as is the case right now. (Join us next week for a comprehensive discussion on this)
LEVEL SIX: GRADUATES
The level of unemployment that currently rocks our university graduates is a crisis. Nigerian universities emphasise theories over practice which is why most graduates can’t function in their areas of expertise. Jeff will end this cycle. Aside forming the base on which most of his initiatives will be lunched, Imo university graduates will be empowered through hands-on training that will make them self-reliant and turn them into employers of labour. Farming, IT, business (local and international trade) etc will be encouraged through funding and capacity building, and used to turn the youths from beggars into active participants in the Imo repositioning project.
Join us next week for another peek into an ideal Imo state sighted using the binoculars of Jeff Uzor. Follow us on Twitter @JeffUzor2019 for more updates.
By: Ismaila Yahaya Kana